HAWKS coach Brian Goorjian is hoping to shape Akoldah Gak's path to the NBA, after signing him as a development player for the Illawarra club on Monday.
A power forward from Penrith, Gak has played high school basketball in the US with Blair Academy in New Jersey and follows brothers Deng, at the University of Miami, and Gorjok, at California Baptist.
It's a three-year deal, which will see Gak becoming a contracted roster player next season after his development year when the NBL tips off, likely in January.
"This is an NBA prospect that's being brought here," Goorjian said when the announcement was made.
"(He's) tall, athletic, multi-skilled, multi-purpose and somebody that the NBA is pointing at.
"The family has put him here, because they see this as a place where he can be developed at home, with all that's going on around the world right now (due to Covid-19).
"And they've selected here, which is a real compliment."
Gak's signing comes after Goorjian took charge of the Hawks program last week.
Goorjian arrived in Wollongong last week week, having completed two weeks in quarantine after flying up to NSW from Melbourne.
It's a new era for the Hawks, after dropping the Illawarra name, the new ownership is also in the middle of structural change following the departure of NBL great and 2001 title winner Mat Campbell as general manager.
Goorjian believes the Hawks are on the right track towards becoming a force in the league again.
"[Playoffs] are the goal, the challenge," Goorjian said.
"The talent's there, the challenge is everybody's new.
"There's no familiarity, there's going to be a process learning how to play together.
"I've been in the NBL for a number of years, but not for the past 11.
"I just know what we've got and I feel good about what we've got and I feel good about the direction of the club."
The Hawks roster includes Deng Adel, Tyler Harvey, Cameron Bairstow, AJ Ogilvy, Justinian Jessup, Sam Froling, Justin Simon, Daniel Grida, Max Darling, Emmett Naar, Isaac White and Deng Deng.